Intel 3.20GHz “Prescott” Pentium IV

..:: Review Conclusion ::..

Well, from the performance results that we have seen today, it is quite hard to get a full grasp on the performance of the “Prescott” Pentium 4. When it came to several of the synthetic benchmarks, “Prescott” shined above “Northwood”. The same can be said for the video encoding and CAD performance results. However, when it came to real world gaming performance, “Prescott” dropped down to either holding a performance gain of virtually null, or it would indeed fall behind the “Northwood” processor at an equal core clock. Due to some software problems, we were not able to graphically post results for our Code Creatures and AquaMark 3 benchmarks, so we’ll address those two now. In each of these benchmarks, we saw similar results to that of the UT2003 and QIIIA tests. In both AquaMark 3 and Code Creatures, “Prescott” actually fell back behind the “Northwood” processor by a few percentage points. It seems that, although memory and computation performance have been greatly improved, when it comes down to it, you won’t be getting much of anything out of “Prescott” for the time being when it comes to gaming performance. 


Ah, but what else is there to say about the “Prescott” Pentium 4 processor? “Prescott” certainly keeps moving the Pentium 4 train in the same multimedia direction as Intel has always pushed. We’re almost once again re-living the early stages of the Pentium 4 processor. This time, we’ve a “new” processor with a modified architecture, increased cache, and an deepened pipeline that offers mediocre performance advancements, and in some areas, performance losses. From a performance analysis point of view, it would be hard to justify an upgrade from a “Northwood” Pentium 4 to a newer “Prescott”, especially if you’re currently running at 2.80GHz or above, the launch speed/s of the “Prescott” processor. There are indeed some performance improvements, mainly in the areas of memory bandwidth, and in video encoding / multimedia applications, so all is not lost. The one area where most will be greatly disappointed is gaming performance. In each and every one of our gaming related benchmarks, “Prescott” fell behind an equally clocked “Northwood” processor, something that will only add fuel to the AMD enthusiasts’ fire. 


The real performance benefits that will come from the “Prescott” processor will not be seen right away, but farther on down the road, strikingly similar to the original debut of the Pentium 4. The “Prescott” processor has been geared for increased core clock speeds, and with the new instruction set, performance enhancements will slowly begin to trickle in once SSE3 coding schemes have been implemented into software. The problem is that it can, in many cases, take quite some time for software to be modified to utilize these new instructions, and for new software to become available that takes hold of all that the “Prescott” processor is able to do. The real advantages of “Prescott” will be more obvious as the processor climbs in core clock speed, and when the new instructions can be put to use. Other issues to deal with are that for one, “Prescott” will only be offered up to 3.40GHz in a Socket 478 package, and two, this chip runs quite a bit warmer in comparison to a “Northwood” processor. Although cooling solutions that are available now will work, if you’re planning on doing any overclocking with a “Prescott” chip, you’re going to want to make sure you have some high-quality cooling implemented into your system. We were unable to bring you any overclocking results today because we did not possess what we thought to be adequate cooling materials to provide accurate results. We plan on adding on to this article in the future when such cooling is better available to us, and new motherboard BIOS’ become available that allow support for “Prescott.”

From the pricing schemes that we have seen so far, the “Prescott” processors will be running right along with “Northwood” and shouldn’t be any more expensive, even at launch. Due to the decreased manufacturing costs, Intel has chosen to implement a strong pricing scheme for “Prescott” at launch, and prices should stay down in the future as well. This helps in making them a more attractive option to users looking to upgrade from older systems, and better goes with the performance ratio between “Prescott” and “Northwood”. If you’re currently on a “Northwood” system, then unless you’re a fanatic who needs the latest of everything, waiting might be the best option. The typical chipset release period is only a few short months away, and with it will come a new socket, and more importantly, several new technologies such as PCI Express. Intel has done a nice job in making the transition to a new core, improved architecture, and improved manufacturing technologies but considering the current timeline it would be best that before you upgrade, make sure you evaluate all of your future options. Thanks go out to both Intel, and to you for taking time to view our evaluation of the “Prescott” processor.